Distance hiked: 6km
Location: Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: July 5, 2020
In the late 1800s to 1930s the area around Chutes Provincial Park was used for logging. In the winter, trees were toppled, cut into sections and dragged from the forest and placed onto the ice-covered river. In the spring, when the ice and snow started to melt and raise the water levels, the pine logs floated down the Aux Sables River to the mouth of the Spanish River. To reduce the risk of logs jamming up the river, special chutes were built around difficult sections.
Most of the land that became Chutes Provincial Park was once owned by the Spanish River Lumber Company, which used it for pasturing their horses. Chutes Provincial Park was established in 1963 and was named for a 60-metre log chute which was built at the main falls to help direct logs safely downstream.
We camped at Chutes the previous night. The park is relatively small (there are 130 campsites) and was surprisingly busier than expected. But then again, it was the Canada Day long weekend and close to Sudbury. We managed to snag an awesome site (#97), which offered great privacy, was in the radio-free zone and we could also hear the sound of the falls from our site.
We could also access the one trail in the park, Twin Bridges Trail, from the back of our campsite. The trail features (as the name suggests), two bridges, three viewing platforms, and great views of the Aux Sables River and the Seven Sisters rapids.
The first scenic lookout is located near the start of the trailhead and overlooks the main falls from the Aux Sables River. There’s a series of steps down to a viewing platform. There are a few interpretive signs here which explains more about the history of the area and how the park was formed.
Unfortunately there are no signs of the logging chute today.
We walked back up the steps and started hiking along the Twin Bridges Trail. The entire trail is 6km, but you can shorten it as the trail consists of two interconnecting loops.
The trail is well marked by a series of blue markers on trees. There is also a map of the trail at each junction to assist with navigation.
The second scenic lookout is located about a kilometre from the trailhead at the base of the Seven Sisters Rapids. Most of the views are obstructed by trees though.
After the second scenic lookout are the two bridges the trail was named after. The bridges cross the Aux Sables River and were built in 2001 by hand. The steel on the bridges is a special alloy that never needs painting, but will eventually turn a dark brown colour as it oxidizes and seals.
After crossing the two bridges, the trail loops through the forest. We hiked clockwise around the loop, starting with the outer portion. The terrain was progressively more rough and rugged and the scenery rather uneventful.
The views start to improve once the path follows along the Aux Sables River. The third scenic lookout is located here, which provides a nice view of the rapids.
Once we looped back to the junction, we crossed over the two bridges, and hiked back to the trailhead. Overall, it took us just over an hour to complete the trail. We returned to our campsite to pack up our tent and finish organizing the car for our drive back home to Toronto.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here